Imtiaz Baloch

Who was Comrade Wahid

On the sunny afternoon of July 26, 2016, a group of armed masked men stopped a passenger bus at a Pakistan army check post, near Gadap Town, in the northwestern part of Karachi, forming the provincial border of Sindh and Balochistan.

The masked men ordered all the passengers to show their identity cards. After enquiring all the passengers one by one, they forcibly offloaded Wahid Baloch and forced him into a blue-color Vigo, according to an eyewitness.

Wahid Baloch, in his 50s with light-brown complexion and chevron mustache, is a Baloch literary and social activist. He along with his friend Sabir Naguman, a Balochi poet, were coming from a friend’s funeral from Umar Khot in Sindh.

Sabir Naugman asked the armed men to take him too. When he resisted, more masked men hoped on the bus and pushed Naguman away. After offloading Wahid from the bus, the armed men threw his backpack on Naguman’s lap. Wahid Baloch was not carrying much in his backpack — some Balochi books for leisure reading on the bus, a Balochi magazine which he helped publish and some clothes.

The Gadap police registered an informal report of his kidnapping but declined to file a First Investigation Report (FIR).

Wahid Baloch has been determined and passionate about his humanitarian work. He organized several press conferences, protests, gatherings and marches against enforced disappearances of Baloch people. Residents of Lyari use to say: “Wahid bleeds for others”. This passion of dedicating his time for others earned him the nickname of “Comrade”. No one knows Wahid in Lyari, if you don’t add Comrade to his name.

Wahid was raised in Reksar Lane, Lyari, Karachi. In the 80s, during the Movement for Restoration of Democracy, the Baloch youth of Lyari gave great sacrifices under the leadership of Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo to end the dark reign of General Zia ul Haq. Like the other Baloch youth, Wahid Baloch also followed Bezenjo.

Apart from his activism, Wahid Baloch adored books. He organized all kinds of Balochi literary, musical and cultural events. No event was complete without him. Currently, he is the head of Sayad Hashmi Reference Library in Malir, Karachi.

He fathered seven children; the youngest is a 12 years old boy. In the close Baloch society, he openly brought his daughters to participate in different Balolch social and literary events.

He has been working as a telephone operator at the Civil Hospital Karachi for the last 25 years. He assisted patients from interior Sindh and Balochistan in acquiring proper care. Often he was seen guiding patients to the relevant medical department. Due to the dedication with his work, he was elected as the president of the Karachi Civil Hospital Employees Union.

For years, Wahid Baloch has been pushing the limits of the ringmaster’s patience. No other factor seems to be attached to his kidnapping except for his decades of work on Balochi literature and his tireless campaigning against enforced disappearances by the Pakistan army.

A man who fought to eradicate the menace of enforced disappearances became a victim of the very crime.

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